Friday, October 12 (and Saturday and Sunday)
Only a few miles from our camp at Blueberry Pond, we found a Ford dealer where we were told the wait would be over 2 hours to look at our tire. It was down to 40psi (specification is 60psi). They pumped us up and we knew we could get to Amherst since the tire was losing about a pound an hour. We headed south on the interstate in the showery rain listening to music on WPOD (Anne's iPod playing through the car radio).
As we arrived in the Amherst area, we scanned Rt. 9 for a tire dealer and found "Hadley Tire and Brake" conveniently located just after the Stop & Shop where we first stocked up on "Grandma Yogurt" for our grandsons and a few other supplies for dinner that Tom had volunteered to cook. Tim of the tire store was unable to jack us up with the feeble 2 ton jack they had for outdoor work (our 11 feet would not fit into the tire bay). Then Tom remembered that the van had its own jack and the tire repair was on! It turned out that the inner passenger side dual tire had a small finishing nail in it, causing the slow leak. Thank goodness for dual tires on the rear. You can at least get to a service center without being towed. By now we have replaced 3 of the 4 original rear tires due to punctures or other road hazards. (Two on this trip and one in Alaska). The job was done in 45 minutes and we were on our way to the Barker Plotkin apartment where we parked and Tom prepared a delicious dinner of New York Clam Chowder and a clam juice/wine cream sauce with shrimp and green beans on Angel Hair. Tim went out to the van with Grandpa while he cooked and was his good buddy. Jesse and Jeremy were looking at a Karate school. Audrey really appreciated the cooking after a tiring day at work at Harvard Forest.
We left the apartment just after dark and dry camped in the farm's parking lot. The next morning after a good night's sleep, we moved closer to the barn and the electrical outlet. There was a heavy frost during the night, but we slept so soundly, we never heard the farm truck head out to the Amherst Farmers' Market at dawn with the last tomatoes of the season carefully tucked away from the frost.
Audrey and the kids picked us up at 9 on Saturday morning, and we headed to the "Muffin Store" in Amherst followed by a visit to the farmers' market. Audrey left Tim and Jesse with us and went home for an hour or two of quiet time while we had a picnic lunch and then a viewing of the "Muppet Movie." Anne left in the middle of the movie for a shower at the apartment and after the movie, Tom carried Timmy back piggyback while Jesse ran ahead or fell behind on the 10 minute walk to the apartment. We decided to eat out in Amherst that evening and after two tries at popular restaurants, we were immediately seated at the Chinese restaurant where the proprietor used an abacus to tally up the bill - how authentic is that?!
Sunday dawned bright and we had the traditional pancake breakfast made with Audrey's scratch recipe. Tom used the hi-speed internet to post an update to this journal and around noon we reluctantly left our kids and grandkids for the drive back to Webster and the house we had not seen for over 6 weeks.